Dutchman Lars Boom will start Saturday's first stage of the Tour de France despite showing low levels of cortisol in a test on the eve of the race, his Astana team manager said. Low levels of the hormone can be explained by the use of corticoids, anti-inflammatory drugs that are allowed out of competition but forbidden while racing unless a rider is granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). "Boom will take the start," Alexander Vinokourov told reporters.
Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali's under-pressure Astana team requested teammate Lars Boom be removed from cycling's showpiece race for anomalous blood-testing results announced Friday. As excitement built on the eve of the Tour start in Boom's home country, pre-race tests on the Dutch rider in the Kazakh-funded team showed a low cortisol level. Low cortisol levels can indicate cortisone doping but are not conclusive proof of doping.
By Julien Pretot UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters) - The Astana team were plunged into controversy again when Dutch rider Lars Boom faced being thrown out of the Tour de France because of low Cortisol levels on the eve of the start. Astana, the team of defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali, are members of the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) that applies stricter rules than the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). "According to article 9 of the MPCC the return to competition will be made after at least eight days of rest," the MPCC said in a statement on Friday.
By Martyn Herman UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters) - (This version of the story was refiled to correct typo in paragraph five) Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford says he would back night-time dope tests for riders but fears cycling's biggest races may be decided by "sleep deprivation" rather than form should the measure be applied. The International Cycling Union (UCI) unveiled a series of recommendations earlier this year as part of its anti-doping program in the wake of the Independent Reform Commission's (CIRC) report into the sport's checkered past. UCI president Brian Cookson established an internal task force to look into measures aimed at beefing up the sport's anti-doping procedures including waking riders in the middle of the night to perform doping checks.
By Martyn Herman UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters) - Chris Froome reckons there will be no phoney war when the Tour de France begins with a 14km individual time trial through the streets of the picturesque Dutch city Utrecht on Saturday. "Tomorrow's prologue time trial is definitely the start of the GC (general classification) battle," 30-year-old all rounder Froome, one of the main favorites along with Spain's Alberto Contador, Italian Vincenzo Nibali and Colombia's Nairo Quintana. "Even though it's short at just under 14km there can be time gaps and I believe there can be time gaps of 20 seconds between some of the main GC contenders." While nothing will be won or lost in Utrecht, a poor ride or getting unlucky with some of the predicted thunderstorms could put some of the main contenders under early pressure.
Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali did not see much of rival Chris Froome the last time they raced each other. At the Criterium du Dauphine race last month, Froome sent out a major warning to Nibali - and others - that he is in great form, clinching overall victory on the back of two dashing stage wins in the mountains. Nibali, meanwhile, finished 12th.